As I left work last week, my friend sent me a text: “Sorry to read your grocery store is closing.”
She knows that store is where we meet (Starbucks at the entrance), where I shop, where we run in to get cheap treats before a movie, where I stop at the deli counter and buy “plastic dinner” (all food is in plastic containers from the deli) and where I grab a veggie sandwich for my vegetarian son and…
I went to the store that day and found employees tearful in conversation with "suits" offering options to stunned employees. One employee asked me, “Want the usual sandwich grilled for here?” Yes, please.
My son and the store arrived in 1994. And one day, as a toddler, he looked at me and said, “I want to zeee the way-dee.” As a mother fluent in her child’s language, I asked, “Lady?? What lady?” We toured our house and I looked for images of women. Not what he wanted. Turns out, on our next trip to the store, he looked up and squealed, “Wayyy-deee!” He was pointing to the Starbucks logo – the mermaid. We often, okay always, started our grocery shopping with a sip of something from Starbucks – which is also closing because they need access to a bathroom and to garbage. “A port-a-potty and a dumpster won’t satisfy the health department?” I asked Pat, one of my favorite baristas. Seems not.
Our communities offer us touch points of stability as we transition through life’s stages: children growing, job transitions, health crises, parents dying. We can rely on specific places and familiar faces for continuity. I know where to find EVERYTHING in that store and I LOVE the employees.
Now, I face a new learning curve in a new store – somewhere - and new people who will never say, “Gosh, I remember when your son was just a baby!” And sadly, the TOP Foods family who shared the rhythm of our lives, will be gone.
(S-R archives photo)